By Roderick Mann,

[From the Los Angeles Times, November 30, 1986]

Three years ago, had you been reading Daily Variety carefully, you would have come across the following advertisement:

"Dean Stockwell will help you with all your real estate needs in the new centre of creative energy." A Santa Fe, N.M. telephone number followed.

Stockwell, an actor all his life, had turned his back on his craft at the age of 47 and quit Hollywood.

It came as no surprise to his friends. Newly married some 18 months earlier, anxious to start a family and tired of the smog in Los Angeles and the fight for good roles, Stockwell had decided to try his luck in another field.

"With roles not coming along for me, what else could I do?" he said at the time. "I had no training for anything. But I felt I could sell houses."

He got no chance to find out. Within months of getting his real estate license in New Mexico - "It was very difficult, only 30% passed the test" - Lady Luck, that fickle jade, began dancing attendance again.

The offers started coming in. Nothing great at first but encouraging. He landed "To Kill a Stranger," a Spanish-language movie to be made in Mexico City with Donald Pleasance (Both actors were dubbed). That led to another movie made in Mexico, "Dune," playing the evil Dr. Yueh for
director David Lynch.

Then came a role in "Paris, Texas" directed by Wim Wenders. After that, he rejoined Lynch for "Blue Velvet," in which he plays a perfumed pimp. Next he flew East to work with Francis Coppola in "Gardens of Stone." And finally he took off for Adelaide to make "Time Guardian" for
first-time Australian director Bryan Hannant. He's still waiting to sell his first house.

"Life," he said on a short visit here from his new base south of Santa Barbara, "is full of surprises."

Stockwell, a popular child actor who had made some 15 movies (including "Gentleman's Agreement" and "The Boy With Green Hair") by the time he was in his teens, is now 50, a trim actor with shoulders remarkably free of chips.

"Perhaps because I truly feel my best is still to come," he said.

Marriage to Joy Marchenko, a sometime actress he met on the beach during the 1976 Cannes Film Festival, and the births of two children, a boy 3 and a girl 1, have clearly contributed much to his new sense of self. "Now all I care about is my family," he said. "They've changed my perspective about everything. Cannes has been very lucky for me." (He won the best-actor prizes there for "Long Day's Journey Into Night" and "Compulsion").

Although he has been acting for as long as he can remember, Stockwell claims he has never felt he belonged in the mainstream of show business.

"Never," he said. "I've never felt part of it; I've always felt I was off to the side, somehow. People are always asking me: 'Why do you keep making these offbeat movies?' The answer is: They're the only ones offered to me usually. Perhaps it's because when you've been around as long as I have, you become invisible to some producers. They might pay more attention if I just came out of nowhere and turned in the same performance."

He believes "Blue Velvet" will help re-establish his credentials. And he has high hopes for Coppola's "Gardens of Stone." Based on Nicholas Profitt's novel of the same name, it's about the Army's chief ceremonial-and-burial unit during the last days of the Vietnam War. Stockwell plays the unit's company commander. Much of the story is set at Arlington National Cemetery.

"I'd been up for movies with Francis before," he said, "but never had any luck. I tested for the original 'Godfather' [Al Pacino's role of Michael], you know, and almost got it. So I'm delighted to be in this one, even though it was made under tragic circumstances."

Right at the start of shooting in May, Coppola's 23-year-old son Gian-Carlo, was killed in a boating accident near Annapolis, MD. Griffin O'Neal, his companion in the boat, faces trial on manslaughter charges next month.

"Gio was the video camera operator on the movie and he'd been closely involved in all the rehearsals," said Stockwell. "So his death was a tremendous blow; it cast a pall over everything. And the dreadful thing was that when Francis came on to the set after the accident, the first
thing he had to shoot was a funeral scene. Our movie is full of them.

"Because of the accident, it was a very grim and sombre time for everyone on the movie. I've never been involved in anything like it."

Soon after finishing "Gardens of Stone," Stockwell took off for Australia and a role in "Time Guardian."

"its Australia's first attempt at a sci-fi, 'Star Wars' type of movie," he said. "I play the boss of a city that moves through time."

While there, he renewed acquaintanceship with Australian actor Jack Thompson, who is writing a screenplay that they hope to do together next year. Next year, too, Stockwell hopes to work again with David Lynch on "Ronnie Rocket," which is now being written.


Stockwell confesses he misses Santa Fe. "I've always thought it's one of the most beautiful parts of this country," he said. "And the air is wonderful. But as soon as we moved there, Joy began suffering from allergies which affected her breathing. So now we've moved nearer the coast."


He laughed. "Now I'll never know how I would have done selling houses. It could have been interesting. I'm sure there would have been a lot of 'Didn't you used to be Dean Stockwell?' remarks. But you know what? My wife is thinking of getting her license here in California. And she'll be much better than I ever would"